Lucius Accius

Roman poet and literary scholar (170–c.86 BC)

Lucius Accius (170 BC – 86 BC) was a Roman tragic poet, literary scholar and playwright. Accius was born in 170 BC at Pisaurm, a town founded in the Ager Gallicus in 184 BC. He was the son of a freedman and freedwoman, probably from Rome.

Let them hate, so long as they fear.

The year of his death is unknown, but he must have lived to a great age, since Cicero (born 106 BC, hence 64 years younger) writes of having conversed with him on literary matters.

Quotes

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E. H. Warmington, ed., Remains of Old Latin, Vol. 3, LCL 314 (1935)
Norbert Gutterman, A Book of Latin Quotations (1968), pp. 42–4
  • Saepe ignavavit fortem ex spe expectatio.
    • ... hope that's hope
      Deferred has oft dispirited strong men.
    • Fragment of Aeneadae, quoted by Nonius, 123, 12 (tr. Warmington)
  • Muliebre ingenium, prolubium, occasio.
    • A woman's nature, lust, and opportunity.
    • Fragment of Andromeda, quoted by Nonius, 64, 5 (tr. Warmington)
  • Virtuti sis par, dispar fortunis patris.
    • ... In valour be you like your father,
      In fortune be unlike him.
    • Fragment of Amorum iudicium, quoted by Macrobius, Saturnalia, VI, 1, 58 (tr. Warmington)
    • Literally, 'Be like your father's valour, unlike his fortunes.'
  • Cuius sit vita indecoris mortem fugere turpem haut convenit.
    • Whose life is unseemly it befits not to escape a shameful death.
    • Fragment of Athamas, quoted by Nonius, 488, 36 (tr. Warmington)
  • Oderint dum metuant.
    • Let them hate, so long as they fear.
    • Fragment of Atreus, quoted by Seneca, de Ira, I, 20, 4 (tr. Warmington)
  • ... Vigilandum est semper; multae insidiae sunt bonis.
    • Wide awake a man must always be; many are the ambushes laid for the good.
    • Fragment of Atreus, quoted by Cicero, pro Plancio, 24, 59 (tr. Warmington)
  • Probae etsi in segetem sunt deteriorem datae
    fruges, tamen ipsae suapte natura enitent.
    • Good grain, though to a field of poorer kind
      'Tis given, yet it grows of its own nature
      Into a gleaming crop.
    • Fragment of Atreus, quoted by Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, II, 5, 13 (tr. Warmington)
  • Laetum in Parnaso inter pinos tripudiantem in ciroulis
    in ludo atque taedis fulgere.
    • You will see him glowing in a sport of torches,
      Capering happily in ring-dances
      Amongst the pines on Parnassus.
    • Fragment of Bacchae, quoted by Nonius, 506, 15 (tr. Warmington)
  • Sapimus animo, fruimur anima; sine animo anima est debilis.
    • Intelligence is ours through the mind;
      Enjoyment, in our breath; when mind is absent,
      Breath is a thing enfeebled.
    • Fragment of Epigoni, quoted by Nonius, 426, 25 (tr. Warmington)
  • Probis probatum potius quam multis fore.
    • That by the honourable I'll be honoured
      Rather than by the many.
    • Fragment of Epinausimache, quoted by Nonius, 519, 1 (tr. Warmington)
  • Is demum miser est, cuius nobilitas miserias nobilitat.
    • He only is a wretched man,
      Whose own renown has made his woes renowned.
    • Fragment of Telephus, quoted by Nonius, 352, 5 (tr. Warmington)
    • Variants:
      Wretched, indeed, is the man whose fame makes his misfortunes famous.
      —Jon R. Stone, The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations (2005), p. 49
  • Immo enim vero corpus Priamo reddidi, Hectora abstuli.
    • No no! It is a corpse that I have rendered
      To Priam; Hector I have taken from him.
    • Ex incertis fabulis, quoted by Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, I, 44, 105 (tr. Warmington)

About

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  • Accius was a writer of tragedies, and being once asked why he, whose dialogue was celebrated for its energy, did not engage in the practice at the bar, answered, because in his tragedies he could make his characters say what he pleased; but that at the bar he should have to contend with persons who would say anything but what he pleased.
    • John Quincy Adams, Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory: Delivered to the Classes of Senior and Junior Sophisters in Harvard University, Vol. 2 (1810), p. 91
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